CITY YEAR IN REVIEW: City officials address several issues in 2018

Published 8:05 pm Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen addressed several issues in 2018, from construction of a sports complex to the destruction of a city landmark and an increase in sewer and water user fees.

The long awaited and much discussed sports complex became reality in June, when city officials and representatives for Georgia-based Sports Fields held groundbreaking ceremonies to start construction of the facility.

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The complex is expected to open in February.

Called Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi, the $22 million complex is being built on city property on Fisher Ferry Road bought in 2003 to build a sports complex. It is funded by a 2 percent sales tax on hotel rooms and food and beverage sales at restaurants approved by the voters in 2017.

The complex is being built under an agreement between the city and Sports Fields of Canton, Georgia, the parent company of The Sports Force, which is building the complex.

The Sports Force is leasing the property from the city to build the facility, and will lease it back to the city, which will pay rent to allow the developer to recover its costs for designing and building the complex.

The project is using 75 acres of the 200-acre Fisher Ferry site to avoid impact from flood-prone areas on the property.

When completed, the complex will have nine fields — eight artificial turf fields and one natural grass field for soccer. Three of the fields can be adapted to play two games at once, and another field is designed for games for special needs children and adults.

Kuhn Hospital coming down

While work continues on the sports complex, city officials took the final steps to remove the Kuhn Memorial Hospital buildings and clear the hospital property on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen in June awarded the bid to remove asbestos from the buildings, take them down and clear the property to M&M Services Inc. of Jackson, which bid $749,990 for the job. The asbestos abatement project is expected to be completed in January, clearing the way for demolition.

Rate increase

While the board was deciding Kuhn’s fate, it approved an increase in water and sewer user fees to increase revenue for operation, maintenance and expansion of the city’s water and sewer systems. The increases are being phased in; the first half was implemented in October 2018, with the second coming in October 2019.

Once fully implemented, the least a residential customer will pay under the new schedule is $10.06 for the first 2,000 gallons, an increase of $1.31 more than the $8.75 minimum rate users have paid since the rates were raised in 2015. Commercial and industrial users would pay a minimum of $41.18 for the first 4,000 gallons used, a $5.37 increase from the present rate of $35.81.

The minimum residential sewer rate was increased by $3.20, from $12.90 to $16.10 for the first 2,000 gallons, and from $3.96 to $4.96 per 1,000 gallons for the second 2,000 gallons — a $1 increase.

Also in 2018:

  Three of the city’s four casinos — Riverwalk, Ameristar and WaterView — opened sports betting venues.

• The board in December authorized city clerk Walter Osborne to advertise for bids for a $645,010 project to correct a drainage and erosion problem on Sherman Avenue.

Paid for in part by a $495,008 federal Natural Resource Conservation Service grant, the project is expected to help alleviate some of the flooding problems affecting the Kings community. The city’s share of the project is $150,002, which will come from the $1 million in capital fund money set aside for improvements in Kings.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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